Women’s soccer continues magical season into Peach Belt semifinals

Charlene Nowotny scored the golden goal to send Flagler to the semifinals.

By Jared Talbot | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Just three years ago, in Ashley Martin’s first season as the head coach for the Flagler College Women’s soccer team, they finished with a record of 4-12-1. In 2015 they were slightly above .500 and last season the same. The 2017 team has written a different story thus far.

After last night’s victory over the Young Harris College in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal, the Saints improved to 15-1-2 overall on the season. The Saints’ season has not only been a good one, but it has been historically good. With their 1-0 victory last night, they now hold the school record for wins in a season with 15.

Few could have predicted such a successful season thus far, but Martin has never stopped believing in his team.

“This team have been brought into the vision that I have for the program,” he said. “They have committed to making the sacrifices needed to be a conference challenger, and a national tournament team. But what makes them so special is that they are all awesome people. I’m proud to work with them every day and watch them grow as individuals.”

Martin’s vision for the program is taking shape before his eyes. After leading the Saints to a combined 19 victories over the course of his first three seasons, he has almost matched that in this season alone. On Sept. 5, it was announced that the Saints were ranked the No. 5 ranked team in the region. At the time, it was the first time that the Saints were ranked that high since 2012. They moved all the way up to No. 1 as the season continued.

On Oct. 3, they had moved all the way up to No. 5 in the United Soccer Coaches top 25. This is a national Division II ranking, and the highest ranking the school’s women’s soccer team had ever achieved. Coach Martin recognized how much of an accomplishment it was, and it has his eyes on bigger things.

“Being ranked five was a nice accolade and something to be proud of, but we always knew and often talked about how we couldn’t let it go to our heads, and how we would use it as a catalyst to work even harder,” Martin said.

The Saints are currently ranked 17th in the country, but their impressive season will continue. They will take on No. 10 Columbus State University at 2 p.m. on Friday Nov. 3 with a chance to punch their ticket to the Peach Belt conference championship.

Whether they win on Friday or not, winning the most games the program ever has in a season and achieving its highest national ranking in a season were just the start as far as Martin is concerned.

“Given the foundation and core values we have within our program, we expect to continually grow and consistently perform at the highest level in Division II,” he said.

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